January 9, 2013
By Scottie Thomaston
Two sets of plaintiffs in two pending challenges to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are opposing motions to stay the proceedings in their respective cases. Since the Supreme Court granted review in United States v. Windsor, motions to stay proceedings have been filed in many of the remaining DOMA cases working their way through the lower courts. The Court took up the question of the statute’s constitutionality, so the argument is that having the lower courts decide the question while it’s pending at the Supreme Court is a waste of time and judicial resources.
In both filings – by plaintiffs in Cooper-Harris v. USA, a DOMA military benefits case, and Aranas v. Napolitano, a DOMA immigration case – the fact that the Court has asked the parties to brief and argue jurisdictional and standing questions is discussed. The filings note that since there are questions whether the Court can even reach the merits of DOMA’s constitutionality, they may or may not decide the issue.
And both of these cases also involve statutes aside from Section 3 of DOMA: there are military benefit statutes and immigration laws at issue here as well. The briefs point to these, arguing that even resolution of Windsor on the merits at the Supreme Court won’t answer the remaining questions in these cases.
And last, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), who is defending the law since the Justice Department dropped its defense, will not suffer irreparable harm, both filings argue. And both point out that the plaintiffs would be harmed by stalling proceedings in these cases. The filings point to harms like failing health and a medical condition (in the military benefits case) and being deported and breaking up a family (in the immigration case.)
h/t Kathleen for these filings